Healthcare: Inevitable or Impossible?

Jonathan Bernstein says that healthcare can't fail:


At this point, the main basis I have for believing the health care reform bill will pass (here's my latest while I was at the Dish...for perspective, here's Jonathan clubber Chait's view, and here's Nate Silver's take) is that I would be shocked if Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, Nancy Pelosi, and Henry Waxman moved things to this stage without knowing they could get the votes. We're talking about some very skilled pols, here.

I can't think of any historical precedent for a failure this large in a House vote -- a major policy with the full support of the president and the majority party leadership that got this close without winning. The two most notable floor defeats that I remember are the first vote on TARP in fall 2008, and the vote (if I recall correctly) on the rule on the Bush deficit reduction package in 1990. In both cases, radical Republicans defected from a bipartisan agreement, in both cases between majority Democrats and a Republican president. And in both cases the policy eventually passed.

Meanwhile, Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute takes her own look back at history:

"The public mood is generally sour," Bowman said. "I can't think of any other big piece of legislation that had so much opposition" and later passed, she said.

They're both right!  Where does that leave us?  At a defining moment in American legislative history . . . the Mothra v. Godzilla, irresistable force v. immovable object, rock v. hard place of policymaking.  It can't pass and it can't fail.  Yet it must do one or the other.

All I can say is, pass the popcorn.


Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What LBJ Really Said About Selma

"It's going to go from bad to worse."

Video

Does This Child Need Marijuana?

Inside a family's fight to use marijuana oils to treat epilepsy

Video

A Miniature 1950s Utopia

A reclusive artist built this idealized suburb to grapple with his painful childhood memories.

Video

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her school. Then the Internet heard her story.

More in Business

Just In